Circus festival proposed for Wellington

Which event will join WOW, the Sevens and the International Arts Fest?

TOM HUNT AND KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2012
A circus festival is one of the suggestions for putting Wellington on the map.
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

SHOW TIME: A circus festival is one of the suggestions for putting Wellington on the map.

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A giant waterslide competition and a circus festival could be Wellington's next "iconic" event.

Along with the Cuba St Carnival, the ideas were among a host of suggestions put forward during public feedback on Wellington City Council's events policy.

The council called for public submissions on its events strategy, which aims to introduce another "iconic event" to the calendar by 2016 to run with WOW, the Hertz Sevens and the biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival. It received 92 submissions.

As well as people putting forward fresh ideas, submitters were asked if the Cuba St Carnival should be an "iconic" event. Of the 55 people who responded, two-thirds said it should be.

Strategic events general manager Andy Scotland said the level of support for the carnival showed the special regard Wellingtonians had for it – but that did not mean it would become the iconic event. "It could remain as an A-level event, but definitely that brand is a brand that is loved by Wellington."

RadioActive.fm station manager Dave Gibbons – who runs the One Love Waitangi Day festival – called for the festival to be moved to Cuba St and the surrounding area. He argued the Cuba St Carnival should not be called an iconic event. "You have had your chance and [it is] too expensive and it's lost its creative chief," Mr Gibbons told the council.

The policy should include a lighting show of Wellington, an "annual giant waterslide competition", and an annual Glover Park Summer Festival, Mr Gibbons said.

Awkward Productions producer Derek Simpson has proposed the Wellington Festival of Circus.

While it had already run the festival in a one-day form six times, followed by an eight-day circus festival in 2010, he told The Dominion Post he was "hoping to grow from that". Big international circus acts, including acts from Cirque du Soleil, could wing their way to the festival, which would retain a strong local flavour.

His submission, which called for $30,000 council funding of a total $133,750 budget, was already in planning for next year – though had not been confirmed.

It included a big top tent, outdoor shows, buskers and free workshops in circus skills.

"You will find circus festivals in the four corners of the world, they are unique in the way they are not only a showcase of talent and artistic enterprise, but they also open up a world of possibilities."

In another submission, Alessandrini Massi, of Wellington, suggested a dance music festival.

The draft events policy suggests combining and holding community festivals every two years, cashing in on regional events and adding an iconic event to its calendar to cement it as the "events and cultural capital".

Councillor John Morrison, sport and events portfolio leader, said there was still a long way to go before choosing the new event.

The event must have an economic return of $20 for every $1 of council investment.

How They Stack Up

WOW

Spectators: 47,000 a year (over 400,000 in its time). Economic impact: Measured at $15.1m in 2009. Estimated to be $18m in 2011. Council contribution: Not available due to commercial sensitivity, but a council report says it has a financial return of 80:1 for council investment. Jobs: 300, plus 100 volunteers.

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NZ INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

Economic impact: $39.2m. Attendance: 295,000. Council contribution: $950,000 a year. Jobs: 324.

SEVENS

Spectators: 34,000 tickets sold. Economic impact: Measured $15.6m in 2008. Estimated to be $18m in 2012. Council contribution: Not available due to commercial sensitivity, but a council report says it has a financial return of 20:1 for council investment. Jobs: 235, plus 250 volunteers.

- The Dominion Post

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